The death toll arising from protests over the fatal shooting of popular musician, Haacaaluu Hundeessaa has risen from 166 to 239 according to local police.
Officials have attributed the increase of deaths to a combination of lethal force by security officers and interethnic violence.
“Due to the unrest that occurred in the region, nine police officers, five militia members and 215 civilians have lost their lives,” acting Oromia police commissioner Mustafa Kedir said on state television on Wednesday.
Police in Addis Ababa had previously reported 10 deaths in the capital. The total death toll is an increase from 166 fatalities reported last weekend.
Mustafa also said there had been “extensive damage and looting” of government and private property.
“To control this unrest, more than 3,500 suspects have been arrested. They were anti-peace elements who carried out attacks using the artist’s death as a pretext to dismantle the constitutional system by force,” he said.
“The Oromo population should be inclusive of other ethnic groups that live among it.”
Hachalu, 34, was killed last Monday, sparking unrest that spread from Oromia where he was seen as a hero.
His songs focused on the rights of the country’s Oromo people, Ethiopia’s largest ethnic group, and became anthems in a wave of protests that led to the downfall of the previous prime minister in 2018.
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